Figures from Sport England show that adults (16+) in Surrey have never been more active, with seven out of ten (69.9%), doing 150 minutes of physical activity every week - a 3.1% increase on last year and a new high.
The latest ‘Active Lives’ survey for the year to November 2022 also shows that the number of adults classed as inactive in Surrey is the lowest ever, at 19.5%.
Since the national survey started in 2015, there has been a 3% drop in the number of Surrey adults classed as inactive - the best performance across all the counties of England.
Surrey’s numbers are significantly above the overall figures for England which sees activity levels amongst the country’s adults at 63.1%, an increase of 1.7%.
Less than one in four Surrey adults are inactive – an all time low
Inactivity levels in Surrey – that is, people who do less than 30 minutes of activity a week - are at their lowest reported level since the survey began. Again, Surrey is outperforming England as a whole.
Slightly less than a fifth of Surrey’s adults (19.5%) are classified as inactive, a year on year drop of -1.6%.
Yet this still means 190,000 adults in Surrey (19.5%) are risking harm to their wellbeing simply by not moving enough. A further 103,000 people (10.6%) are missing out on the benefits that can come from living a more active lifestyle as they reported between 30 and 150 minutes of activity per week.
Nationally just over a quarter of England’s adults, 25.8%, are inactive (doing less than 30 mins of physical exercise per week), which is a drop of -1.4%.
Being more active helps people to enjoy a healthier life
There are many benefits to staying active for our health: Cancer Research quotes its ability to reduce the risk of 13 different types of cancer1 by 20%, while the British Heart Foundation report a reduction in the risk of heart and circulatory disease of a third, 30%.2
Crucially, regular exercise can also play a part in combating dementia – recently revealed to be the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that a review of 11 studies into middle-aged adults showed a 30% reduced risk of developing dementia, while a study of older people’s activity levels suggested that the most active 10 per cent more than halved their chances of developing Alzheimer's compared to the least active 10 per cent.3
Alongside a reduction in risk for serious long term conditions, being a little more active everyday makes us feel better – it reduces stress and anxiety, improves our mood and gives us the chance to connect and socialise with others.
Elmbridge leads the way – but overall inequalities remain
At a borough and district level, Elmbridge is the most active area with 74.9% of people being active, followed by Tandridge (74.1%) and Mole Valley (73.5%).
Spelthorne has seen the largest increase in active people in the last 12 months.
While a further, county-level breakdown of the results isn’t yet available, nationally the figures show that women, people with disabilities, Black /Asian audiences and those with the lowest incomes are more likely to be inactive. Activity levels among younger adults (16-34) have also fallen over the last 6 years.
Elizabeth Duggan. Managing Director of Active Surrey whose programmes help residents get moving more, comments:
“Seven out of ten adults in Surrey are now active, doing 150 mins or more of physical activity every week, which is really great news for the health and happiness of the county
“Whilst we are also encouraged by the drop in inactivity, this still unfortunately means that almost one in five adults in Surrey - that’s 190,000 people over 16 - are doing less than 30 mins of physical activity every week, which we want to tackle.
“Spring is the perfect time to start getting outside. Doing more physical activity can be as simple as going for a brisk 30 minute walk and heading out five times a week will be enough to start enjoying the health benefits, plus reduce your chance of experiencing serious conditions that can come from inactivity.
“And while there are lots of activities and even clubs for adults to join, parents who want to get children aged 7-16 into active habits we are offering free, fun and local activities across ten of the 11 boroughs in Surrey from now until June as part of the Specsavers Surrey Youth Games. Parents can register kids by searching for ‘Surrey Youth Games’.”
Charts showing Surrey's performance over time and giving a breakdown by borough/district of activity levels can be downloaded from the Active Surrey website.
Further details of the national Sport England ‘Active Lives’ report for the period November 2021 – November 2022 (the first without any coronavirus restrictions since the pandemic began) can be found at https://www.sportengland.org/news/adults-activity-levels-england-bounce-back-pre-pandemic-levels